Falling energy prices: switching providers can be worthwhile

Falling energy prices: switching providers can be worthwhile

The tension in the Federal Network Agency was palpable, says Klaus Müller, head of the agency, during the crisis a year ago. At that time, the network agency developed contingency plans to determine which companies might have to be taken off the grid if gas were to become scarce.

Gas storage already almost full

Today the mood is much better, says Müller: “We are now sitting on gas storage facilities that are already almost 90 percent full. We are seeing constant savings in industry, but also in private households.” The President of the Federal Network Agency notes that the awareness that gas is valuable has changed. We are much better prepared for the coming winter.

This relaxation is reflected in the prices, as can be seen from figures from the consumer portal Verivox. According to this, gas prices for new customers peaked in September 2022. In the meantime, prices have fallen significantly, but are still higher than at the beginning of 2021. A similar development can be seen with electricity, some of which is generated with gas.

What energy customers should pay attention to

Consumer advocates point out that the energy prices for basic services are currently often higher than for other suppliers: “Changing providers is worthwhile in many cases,” says Christina Wallraf from the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia. “You can switch from the basic service at any time with a two-week notice period.” In the case of special tariffs, the period depends on the agreed contract period.

However, the consumer advocate warns against only looking at the price when looking for a provider: “Customers should pay attention to whether the potential new provider has attracted negative attention in the past, for example because it released customers prematurely from current contracts during the crisis.”

Is switching to heat pumps becoming less attractive?

Andreas Loezel from the Ruhr University Bochum believes that gas prices could fall even further in the coming years: “There are a number of new gas resources that are currently being developed and that will come onto the market in 2026 or 2027,” says the environmental economist. By this he means, among other things, the planned deliveries of liquid gas from Qatar.

That’s good news for consumers, says Löschel, but he sees problems for climate protection: “If gas becomes very cheap, it will be very difficult to get people to switch to alternatives.” For example, switching from gas heating to a heat pump could become less attractive.

Politicians can influence gas prices by pricing CO2 emissions. As early as next year, the German CO2 price will rise significantly, making heating with fossil fuels more expensive. However, in addition to climate protection, the government must also take into account the interests of consumers and industry.

Electricity prices will probably remain high for the time being

The long-term perspective is different for electricity than for natural gas, says energy expert Loechel. Here he fears high prices for the coming years, partly because the demand for electricity is likely to increase, for example due to the increasing number of electric cars.

From a climate policy point of view, low electricity prices are important, says Loeschel, because climate-friendly alternatives such as heat pumps or electric cars are powered by electricity. From his point of view, the rapid expansion of renewable energies is therefore all the more important.


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